When do we become human beings?
From the one-celled zygote there will arise billions of cells, each of which must assume its rightful place and function, creating an integrated whole capable of making expressions of mind. By the end of the first month the embryo has developed a beating heart. Safe and protected, the being builds its body around its astral prototype.
But, we are not our bodies, not a happenstance of atoms forming a biological mass with consciousness a by-product. Consciousness is the fundamental element of the cosmos; matter, its concrete expression. As consciousness evolves so does matter. From the subatomic particle to the supergalactic structure, inner worlds -- as well as outer -- all are vehicles of evolution. As human beings we are unfolding the human expression of this one universal consciousness.
The question, "when life begins," is not scientific or legal alone. Materialism has popularized the view that life is some accidental happening, an irregularity in a chaotic universe. Inwardly mankind senses otherwise, we are no accident, but indeed the universe ennobling, enlarging, and spiritualizing its own infinity.
Looking at prenatal processes from the standpoint of spirit, it is not surprising that the child functions as a conscious entity early in his development. A human being is not the product of his physical organization, but a living stream of consciousness-substance expressing itself through a physical body. This stream of consciousness reaches beyond the emotions and mind to the spiritual and divine -- and beyond.
Far from being the result of mechanical physical processes, then, the unborn child is the expression of a existing spiritual entity.